A Review of The Coldest War: A Memoir of Korea “Men joined the Marine Corps for many reasons . . . I’d joined up to dodge the draft and ended up being sent to war” (Brady 8-9). This brief yet poignant statement begins the story of how James Brady ended up serving in the Korean War. As a young adult the draft was being reinstated and Brady did not feel the desire to fight in a war. He and a few of his friends decided instead to join the Platoon Leaders Class with the Marines, which had students spend two summers at the marine Corps Schools in Quantico, Virginia.
After these two summers, graduates would become Lieutenants, but they could not be drafted. Shortly after Brady graduated, the war began in Korea and his class learned they had to prepare to be sent out. The Coldest War: A Memoir of Korea is a first-person narrative of Brady’s life during the war, including his time as a platoon leader, his interactions with other members of the military, and his own personal thoughts during this time. The point of this novel was to tell the story of the Korean War and the difficult obstacles men faced each day.
The Korean War only lasted a little over three years, but over 54,000 Americans died during this time. In comparison, roughly 58,000 men died during the Vietnam War which was ten years long. With other wars getting all the glory, the Korean War is seen as America’s “Forgotten War. ” James Brady gives this war a more personal vibe and brings knowledge to the subject. When I was looking for a book to read, this was one of the last ones on my list.
I wanted to read about World War II – a war that seemed more interesting. However, this book and I crossed paths when all the books I wanted to read were out of stock at the bookstore. I thought I’d take a chance, and I’m glad I did. I fell into a book-induced stupor when I began reading it. After awhile I realized an hour and half had gone by and I was halfway through the book. I was engrossed by the way the book was written; it was as if I were reading a novel on my free time and not because I “had to. I think this book was well-written and it gave me a better idea of the Korean War. I never knew about it, but once I read the book I felt more knowledgeable and it made me want to go out and read more information on the topic. There were a couple of pictures included in the book which really brought the reality of the war. There are candid pictures of Brady as he passed the time in the snow and photos of human bones found after snow had began to melt.
As I read The Coldest War, I was fascinated by the different kinds of weapons used – from the 20 pound BAR (Browning Automatic Rifle) to the guns called “burp guns” with their distinct firing sounds. I also found myself laughing at some of the interactions Brady had with other men and feeling sorry for the men in their unfortunate conditions. This book obviously applied to our class because it explains an important war that needs to be discussed. It shows the war from a behind-the-scenes point of view and it gives little known facts.
After reading this book, not only do I feel like I have a better understanding of the Korean War overall, but I also have more respect for those who have served and are currently serving in any type of military branch. I took this class because I see more and more of my friends and family being sent off to protect America. I wanted to gain more knowledge of why they are going, and how they are part of a long generation of soldiers. This class has helped me understand more, and this book has given me a private depiction of exactly how it is for some people enlisted.